~ 5 April 2006 ~

Katie Couric’s Connectedness

The “news” that Katie Couric will assume the mantle of Dan Rather as CBS’s chief newsreader is no more interesting than that age-old debate of whether or not a tree falling in the woods makes a sound. If no one is there, does anybody hear it?

Considering the ads that run during the evening news, most marketers seem to think that unless you need the Purple Pill, Depends undergarments, Arthritis medicine (ask your doctor!), or a host of other geriatric-aimed products, odds are that you don’t watch the evening news anyway.

Evening newsreaders come and go, but something in Ms. Couric’s announcement was telling of the age in which we live:

Actually there are some things that are new. I guess this is the appropriate time for me to share my future plans. I wanted to tell all of you out there who have watched the show for the past 15 years that, after listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me well in the past, I’ve decided I’ll be leaving “Today” at the end of May.

It was really a very difficult decision for a lot of reasons. First of all because of the connection I feel with you. I know I don’t know the vast majority of you personally and it may sound kind of corny, but I really feel as if we’ve become friends through the years.

And you’ve been with me during a lot of good times. And some very difficult ones as well. And hopefully, I’ve been there for you.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the support you all have given me. And I so appreciate that you’ve included me in your morning routine.

Speaking into the camera, Couric said, “it may sound kind of corny, but I really feel as if we’ve become friends through the years.” Kinda corny? Kinda.

I wonder how many of Katie’s so-called “friends” could call her up and invite her over to dinner with any success? To how many of these “friends” does she send Christmas cards? How many of these “friends” does she help move or visit in the hospital?

It’s easy to poke fun at Katie Couric. Sadly however, whether we like it or not, the pervasive shallowness that accompanies mass culture affects us all. How many celebrities — whether they be newsreaders, actors, writers, or radio personalities — do we consider our “friends?” How many true friends do we sacrifice at the expense of these anonymous relationships?

The proverb tells us, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17, ESV) The self-indulgence of celebrities like Couric allows them to see their mass–broadcasted selves as achieving a real sort of connectedness. Compared with the proverb, it makes one wonder just how connected we in the age of connectivity really are…

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